August 31, 2017

Best Beginner Business Blogging Advice


If you're planning to begin blogging for your business, I'd like to shorten your learning curve. Because, oh boy, do you ever have lots to learn.

The good news is that you don't need to know it all before you start, and learning as you go is fun. I asked a couple of award-winning business bloggers to give me their best advice for beginners so I can pass it onto you.

Mary Jane Copps, aka The Phone Lady, has been blogging weekly for her business since 2009. Here's what she says:
1. Embrace a schedule. While it feels daunting to commit to a daily, weekly or monthly blog, staying true to a posting schedule will make you a better writer, and you will develop the ability to create and uncover great story ideas.
2. Be observant; write it down. No matter what the theme of your blog, things will appear in your life each day that can become a post. Stay present to every phone call, meeting and event. Great content is everywhere. But don't rely on your memory; keeping notes is essential.

Anita Kirkbride of Twirp Communications, blogging about social media marketing since 2011, had something different to say:
Think about what your ideal customer would be typing into a Google search. Make that the focus of your blog posts. Maybe even make that your headline. Use the keywords and phrases that your ideal customer will use, not the ones you wish they would use. Get them to your site first and then educate them on how to speak your language. If you're speaking a different language on your site, they may never find you in the first place.

What do I think? I'm glad I asked them first.

My own advice for beginners is a little leaner:
Just start! You can erase and start again. And you won't know what you don't know till you start.

originally published in Work Better, Not Harder newsletter August 31, 2017

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August 26, 2017

An Image Tool You Don't Know You Need


Sitting in the home office of a friend last year, she mentioned she would love to find a particular photo to use on her new website. She unpinned a much-handled postcard from her bulletin board and passed it to me. The black and white photo on the front was of a young girl on a beach in a very specific pose. We spent a half hour doing intricate searches on photo sites before it became obvious we weren't going to find it easily.

Debi snapped a photo of the postcard and emailed it to me. Once back at my desk, I discovered TinEye reverse image search and was amazed when the search identified where I could buy the photo... in colour. I felt that my first use was a pretty darn good test - a battered black and white postcard, photographed with a phone in poor light.

I filed away my knowledge of this little tool for when it might be needed in a similar situation. I'd be able to come to the rescue again.

Then someone else told me about this great tool called TinEye - for a completely different marketing reason. See, TinEye tells you everywhere you can find that photo being used on the internet, not only where you can buy it.

If you have just picked out the main image for your next marketing campaign or book cover, it would be very useful to know if it's already being used by 62,451 other people. TinEye can tell you that. If being unique is part of your brand, bookmark TinEye. (And hey, it's made with love in Canada.)

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August 22, 2017

Back to the Grind Content Ideas


As you get back to your routine after summer’s break, remember there are lots of ways to make the return to school and work useful to your small business content marketing plans.

Back to School

Stress and excitement go hand in hand for many families as they prepare for the start of a new school year. You have many opportunities to give every family member value in the form of organization tips, tools, worksheets, checklists, shopping lists, how-to’s, recipes and much more. Plus, think ahead and start planning your marketing messaging for all of those upcoming school related activities, like sporting events, exam schedules and school breaks. Teachers are an important segment of this market; don’t forget them!

Back to the Grind

Summer vacation is over and businesses are gearing up for that last big push before year end. Business people are looking for productivity and project management techniques and tools to help them meet their annual goals. And it’s not just kids going back to school; adults are looking for learning opportunities, and organizations are looking to use up their training budgets. Can your business fill some of these needs with either free or paid content?

Many in the small business community think of September as the start of a new year. Kick it off with killer content in your newsletter or on your blog to help your fans get back to their routines and to work on achieving their goals.

August 12, 2017

When is a Discount a Gift?


If you give someone a $25 giftcard to a shop where the lowest priced item is $50, is it a gift?

What if a complete stranger gifts you 50% off the price of a conference ticket? Is that a gift?

The headline said: Our Gift to You: A Special Discount for Generators Summit. When I followed the link in the email to get my gift, I was taken to an Eventbrite ticket purchase page. Currently I can get the early bird price. What a generous gift... not.

Usually I would tweet or otherwise share information about such an interesting event, even if I won't attend. This particular event is actually getting a whole blog post.

Be aware of the perceptions of people opening your emails or clicking on your links. Using the word 'gift' in any marketing context is tricky because it mixes up social values with economic values. Just because others do it, doesn't mean it's right (for you).

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